Friday, January 25, 2008


That sucks...

And now

some are gearing up for a big weekend at Worlds. The course looks very spectacular from the story/photos in Velonews.

Scary drop (photo by: Charles Pelkey)

Seems Compton, Trebon, and Bessette are no-goes. Too bad the representation from North America is dwindling. It's a long freakin' season.

The a-team is out in Cali. Two pieces of advice: stay away from Heywood the accountant and eat lots of Tacos. Felt is in Cali. Heywood is in Cali. I'm not.

And me. I should be building up some courses for work but instead I'm killing time until the temps creep into the 30's so I can get out on the bike.

A la Felt (RIP) I'm thinking of putting in some more time on the mountain bike this year. This is just random, bullshit, mid-winter rambling right now (sort of along the same lines as horking out volumes of January discourse on the various attributes and shortcomings of training devices), but a thought nonetheless. Maybe a mountain bike race? Might be fun to watch my cheap-o Specialized fall apart under my ass as I spit dirt from my lungs.

Hey, I hiked/sort of ran for an hour and a half in the woods yesterday. I'm a little sore. Isn't that cool?

Monday, January 21, 2008

What Retirement?

I really need to "get into something."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


This is one of the times of the year that affords me some flexible hours for random reading. One of my habits is to wander the stacks at the public library and grab whatever looks good. Random stuff.

So I started this reading free-for-all season with some heavy-ass shit: How to Read the Bible by Kugel. Kugel is a former Harvard prof who taught intro/bible theory classes to packed rooms of wide-eyed masses. The book is heavy, thick, and rockin' good esp when he brings to light the various historical approaches to viewing this book and how these approaches had a profound influence on the shaping of societies. He tackles the topic with great ambition in a format that's easily digestible for a simple mind like mine.

After all that mental exercise I needed to lighten things up. One of my many weaknesses is for splashy, new-agey health type books. These are my celeb magazine fodder. I'm captivated by the promises of high energy, long life, great sex, and smiles by just nailing down the right combo of vitamins or taking the time to hug someone each day.

They give me moments of hope before I descend back down into the depths.

So I grabbed two of the big names in this genre, and although these dudes both promote the same goals of overall goodness they disagree quite a bit.

The two guys in the ring for this showdown are that big smiling teddy bear Santa beard Andrew Weil and the survey-promoting list guy Michael Roizen of the RealAge empire.

I don't know much about this Roizen cat but he seems to have quite the thing going with his "revolution" of surveys and numbers that allow you to calculate something called your "real age." I got bored taking the multi-page survey at the beginning of his book (I found in most every case question I was subtracting months/years from my chronological age, so I assume I am somewhat younger than my birth certificate would state--good for me), so I ended up skipping around in the book for all the advice that would supposedly yank years off my aging process.

Weil always appears so mellow and grounded and sure every time I've ever seen him on TV, but something about that big-ol' tank frame of his gives me the geebies. I don't imagine he's very svelte getting over barriers on a cross course. But his potions are so convincing.

Two of the areas of big disagreement between these dudes are alcohol and coffee.

Roizen makes is seem as if you have a duty to get lit up every night whereas Weil speaks of alcohol as "harder than herion, cocaine, LSD, and all the other illegal drugs" and you are an evil, weak degenerate if you partake.

When it comes to coffee Roizen spouts specific data to suggest without a doubt that heavy coffee consumption is good for y'all and will shed years off the aging process. He also claims you'll reduce your risks of Parkinson's and Oldtimer's diseases by hammering the joe. He's talking six or more cups of full strength a day.

Weil lets coffee have it. It's just below the evils of alcohol and 'bacco for him. It's "most irritating to the body" and he claims to have "files...filled with dramatic cures of long-standing conditions, brought about simply by getting people off coffee."

Everyone and their fahking agendas...

Roizen is my boy. Just finished a pot of Kona. I feel so mellow and right with the world.

Time to go pet the dog.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Could Someone

please explain Assos to me?

Monday, January 7, 2008

The CX I Didn't Do

Pal Heywood busted out his ghetto single speed yesterday and headed down the mountain into Sacramento for that uber-rare event: the Cali CX race. Pictured above are some of the A's negotiating the sloggy banks of the American River before turning to hoof it up. Wood told me it wasn't all together uncommon to get caught up in a bad line in the post-storm mud and end up in the river.

Any topless cult meetings taking place along the river, Wood, or does that only happen at the spot you saw fit to lead Moveitfred's kids to this past summer?

Also heard there was something going on in CT this past weekend.

As for me I just did a lazy two hours around town on the CX bike and managed to almost fall asleep in the sun down at the beach. After the recent below zero temps the 50+ degrees today felt like 80, or something like that.


The warmish temps here on the island this past weekend convinced the son that fishing would be a good idea. Despite my caution that it might be a tad colder down by the seaside and the bountiful schools of fin were likely gone, sluggish, or holed up in deep water we did indeed pull out the tackle and walk down the road to the harbor.

It was all good fun until the repeated casting got boring, the action changed to pulling out creatures from the muck, the jeans got wet, and the sharp breeze off the water put a freeze on the whole experience.


So in the NYT today Stanley Fish [clever, huh?] had a few choice things to say about the Humanities.

Will the Humanities Save Us?


First, the title. Isn't Fish stretching for effect what people expect from the Humanities in the first place? How dramatic! "Save Us?" Look, the Humanities ain't gonna save us [whatever the hell that means] folks, no matter what. OK, so Fish admits as much in the essay.

Forget the title. Where Fish pushes buttons is with his suggestion that the Humanities don't hold a strong place, outside of themselves, in the academic experience. His overall stance seems to create a model for education that adheres to a vocational framework. Not that there's anything wrong with a vocational or skills education mind you. Look, if some dipshit plows into me and I'm spurting blood all over the twisted metal of my minivan, I don't want a philosopher on site ruminating on the effects of our hurried human condition. I need one dude powering up the jaws of life and another applying arterial pressure.

But what about this from Fish:

"Justification, after all, confers value on an activity from a perspective outside its performance. An activity that cannot be justified is an activity that refuses to regard itself as instrumental to some larger good. The humanities are their own good. There is nothing more to say...."

The Humanities don't serve a larger good? Really? I'll admit that anyone would be hard-pressed to draw a specific line of "good" from a humanities classroom to some specific goodness out in the world that can be measured into a "larger" context [wait, and are we talking economic good only?]. But have we lost the corner of our intellect that suggests engaging our brains with the interesting thinkers and ideas from the past is a worthy good?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Fenders, pt 2

Got this response from Jack Sweeney at Bikecommuters...

John...unfortunately, you can't have it both ways: you can either have GOOD fenders, or you can have "easy on/easy off" fenders.

For example, the SKS Race Blade -- they go on and off very quickly, but they don't provide enough coverage to really keep you and your bike clean and dry. Same goes with the seatpost-clamping rear fenders. Same with the clip-on front mini-fender that goes on the downtube.

I've tried a couple modern brands of fenders, notably the Zefal Cafe models and the Planet Bike full-coverage fenders with integral mudguards. The Planet Bike ones are substantially better (better hardware, more versatile). One trick some folks use to make the fenders go on and off easier is to thread longer mounting bolts "inside out" (from the inside of the fork/dropout bosses toward the outside of the frame) and using metric wingnuts to attach the stays and struts. Still, it's not a 30 second removal process!

If you go for really blingy, indestructible fenders, I heartily recommend either Honjo or Giles Berthoud fenders. Honjos come in fluted, smooth or hammered-finish aluminum, while the Berthoud ones come in stainless steel. The mounting hardware and struts are without peer, and either brand is so gorgeous that you won't want to take them off!

Either Peter White Cycles or Velo Orange in Annapolis, MD carry these kinds of fenders...might be worth checking out!


Can any of you experts recommend fenders? Anything to avoid? Will these cheap-os from Performance work? I'd like something quick and easy to add to the Zank cross bike for commuting purposes.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Just renewed my license and don't feel as old as they say I am. You know the routine--you renew and USAdaMan says you're going to be X years old in 08, but you're not X years old yet. Kinda depressing, actually.

I mean, crap, I remember when my dad was that old.


Since I am, when it comes right down to it, unemployed until the end of the month I have been given the duty of disassembling the family xmas tree before the whole thing shrivels into a tinderbox and spontaneously bursts into flames.

So I started on this project last night.

Now this photo above--mined from the internet--shows the proper way to hang a holiday bulb on a tree, in my humble opinion. If you look closely you can see the hook is well positioned and the hanger had enough confidence in the entire complex device to allow the needles of the tree to act as additional support so that the festive globe would not shift or, in the most devastating scenario, come crashing to the floor.

For those of you with experience disassembling a tree you probably know, like I do, that removing a well-positioned, properly hung bulb is not a complex maneuver. In fact, one can often breeze through the job in minutes by simply snatching gobs of these bulbs with your bare mitts.

However, this is not the case on our tree.

It seems, unknown to me at the time, that my wife schooled our children in a different bulb hanging technique, one that involves not just appropriate placement of the bulb on the tree but also employs the bizarre technique of crimping and twisting the wire hanger around and around and around the branch so as to secure the entire device--solid and unmoving--to the display.


By my rough estimation the removal of each bulb--a job that traditionally should take no more than about 3/4 of a second--now takes upwards of 15 seconds with the need for two hands combined with an awkward un-twisting technique to free each shiny ornament. And think about this: because the removal now requires two free hands one cannot use a weaker hand/arm/body to stockpile bulbs as one moves around the tree. Multiply this painstaking job by roughly 80 bulbs and add into the equation the thousands of stiff, dry, razor-sharp needles yearning to strike before dropping to the floor and you get some idea of my hell.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


photo by Larry Campbell from St. Cloud, MN

Guys like this make me feel like a wussy boy. Weather dot com says it's 13 with a feels like -2 outside right now. After I slurp down a bowl of wife's most excellent split pea soup I'm going to brave the elements with a long hike through the local woods. Just can't stomach the chill on a bike today. I'm pretty strict and consistent on my temp range on the bike:

30 and above--no trouble/no thought. Can pretty much do it all from easy spin to hard workout.

20-30--I'm good for about an hour, maybe two in the woods. At these temps I really don't know what I'm doing on the bike. Too cold for an easy recovery ride and don't like doing a hard ride for fear of sweat buildup and real chill. Yes, my manhood is seriously questionable. Usually just go out in these temps for a mental health break.

Below 20--nope. No good comes of this for me.

After today things supposed to warm up into the 40's through the weekend and into the 50's next week. Uhh, I guess that's good, although these severe temp swings are just weird, man.

Question for the Morning

Did Gewilli bicycle commute in this?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Finally some cold weather 'round these parts with more typical brutal cold on the way tomorrow. After some catching up on work, watching the a.m. snow fall, and downing a pot of joe I went out for an hour on the cross bike before returning to the basement for some more specific work on the trainer (If you're just tuning in, I'm one of those freaks who really doesn't mind the indoor trainer that much. In fact, I kind of like it. Let's me catch up on stupid movies and heavy metal tunes).

A couple of pics while out today:

About two miles from home out along Strong's Neck. All the big white dots are swans.

At the end of our road--some widgeons, geese, and more swans.

We have a little swan problem around here, in my humble opinion. Too damn many of them things. I recall when we first moved to the area over 10 years ago there was one nesting pair in the cove below our house, and they got all kinds of attention in the local press. Mate for life, how romantic, real-life Disney movie, all that shit. Now we're overrun. Last winter I counted 79 of them bobbing around our cove one day.

This brings to mind another, related (in my mind, anyway) issue around here these days: Duck hunting. Long Island has a long tradition of duck hunting in the protected harbors and estuaries that surround its shoreline. Of course--Long Island Duck, right?

Along about January our neighborhood comes alive with the cracks of shotgun blasts at dawn. Personally I'm comforted by the sound. Really, I am. My rational mind knows that the species blown from the sky are at stable populations, the fact that the hunters get up in the wee hours and brave the biting cold commands my respect, and the sound itself reminds me that there is a tradition and passion for an old sport still brewing among the population.

Most of my neighbors don't agree.

They are afraid for their children. They are afraid for their property. They cry for the little birds falling from the sky.

Pffffft, rubbish I say. For once, just once, these people should be forced to gather and eat something that doesn't come wrapped in plastic or a box. Thankfully the hunters won a nice little prize recently, as reported in our town paper:

A contentious, often loud meeting of the Brookhaven Town Board Tuesday night resulted in a victory for duck hunters — and for lame-duck Councilman Kevin McCarrick (R-Shoreham) — when the board voted 5-1, with one abstention, to amend Town Code to permit waterfowl hunters access across town parkland with their guns. The hunters in the audience, who appeared to outnumber the amendment's opponents at least two to one, cheered when the vote finally was cast well over two hours after the debate began.

I say let's expand this whole shooting thing to include those damn swans. Some rebels in London got it right.

(ps, we also have growing numbers of deer starting to creep into our neighborhood and, let me tell you, I do have a bow and a few arrows in my basement)